Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crazy Busy Days

Lots going on the last couple of days.

Thursday we went to the Children's Museum.  But lunch first in an outdoor cafĂ©.

A ride on the dad-powered carousel.

Then inside to explore.

Yesterday was jam-packed.  A water park adventure.  WARNING.  Lots of cute old and young kid photos.

Next, trying to get four 5 to 9 year olds to take a nap.  Then a trip to a local brew pub (too busy sampling the local brews to take pictures.  Then back home for a bit before we all went to the Leander McCormick Observatory.

"The University of Virginia operates the McCormick Observatory, located on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. The observatory was constructed after a gift from Leander J. McCormick to build one of the largest telescopes in the world. The 26-inch astrometric refractor was the second largest telescope in the world when it was dedicated on April 13, 1885 (Thomas Jefferson's Birthday). The telescope was the primary research instrument for the department until the 1960's and was used for astrometry into the 1990's."  Here's a link if you want further information: 

Our tour guide was an astronomy professor with same last name but no relation to my BIL.  While we waited for it to get dark, he gave us an overview to the solar system and universe interesting to both adults and kids, who asked lots of questions.

Then to the telescope.  It took quite a bit of time to make adjustments, involving much moving of the dome, the telescope and ladder containing The Seat where we could look through the telescope.  

We totally lucked out.  Although there was some cloud cover, we got to look at Saturn.  

It's like magic.  First all I could see was this blob of white through the eyepiece.  Then, suddenly there was Saturn, looking just like it's pictures.  The atmosphere was clear enough so we could see the Cassini Division.  It looks like a dark line and is the largest of the gaps separating the rings.  I could also see the four moons.

We also looked at our own moon, so large we could only see a small part of it through one of the eyepieces.  Then, through another eyepiece, we could view the whole thing.

Our awesome tour guide to the Universe

Driving back to the hotel, I took a picture of the moon as we see it from here.  Looks nothing like the close-up I'd seen a short time before.

Tomorrow, we're off to the Outer Banks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fun Times in Charlottesville

The last couple of days have been busy.  On Monday, we toured the campus of the University of Virginia.  While walking around we came upon this building.

I Googled it later and found this tidbit of information.  "The building was constructed mainly with monies from the Peabody Education Fund, which had been set up by George Peabody, 19th-century advocate for public education in the South."  George Peabody was an ancestor--from the rich side of Dad's family.  Basically, all the Peabody's in the country are related.

Tuesday, we had Art on the Porch.  Lots of drawing and flying paper airplanes.  And paper cutting.

Every day we're down at the pool at least once a day.  The kidlets are little fish, swimming, splashing, jumping in.  It they're good, Uncle Luke will even toss them up and into the water.

Yesterday, we went shopping.  I gave each of the little kids $25 to spend as they wish.  Decisions of that kind take a lot of time.  An hour later, we checked out of Toys R Us.  They had to pay for their purchases, take the change (if there was any) and keep the receipt until we walked out.  Fortunately, the adults were on hand to help.  I couldn't have managed four of them on my own.

Last night, the kids got to stay up until dark to light sparklers I brought with me.  Even though we were careful, there were a couple of teeny tiny burns.  I was too busy lighting sparklers to take pictures.  But there was the usual Statue of Liberty pose, running and twirling around with them.

The generosity of my BIL and SIL in opening their home to an invasion is awesome  We've had a million laughs, wonderful food and lots of great wine and beer.

There's noting better than hangin' with my family peeps.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Roadtrip

Yesterday, I took the Sage Lady, my pretty new Prius, and we went on a roadtrip.  A long one. Twelve (12, you read that right) hours and several caffeinated beverages later we arrived in Charlottesville, VA.  I LOVES driving this car.  Even makes road construction bearable.

Sitting and driving, there’s not much else to do but listen to my awesome roadtrip playlist and think.  Below are some random thoughts in no particular order.

I left at 3:00 A.M.  It’s always inspiring to watch the sun come up.  The sky shifts from dark to gray almost unnoticed at first.  Then it’s light, then bright, then sun shining in the windows.  Back in the day when we did karate weekend workouts on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Mr. Goodwin had those of us who wanted, get up before sunrise, face the east and meditate—or at least sit quietly—as the sun rose.  A wonderful, energizing way to start the day.

A carefully chosen roadtrip playlist is a time travel device.  It can transport you back in time to revisit high school sweethearts, husbands, lovers.

America is an awesome country.  We’re great at innovating, inventing, building stuff, but our infrastructure is sliding toward third world quality.  Seriously.  We need to stop spending money on wars and killing people and instead make sure feeding people in this country aren't going hungry, make sure they have access to good health care, and repair roads and bridges.  One bridge I drove across (with a semi beside me) was downright scary.  From the looks of the potted bridge deck and rusted supports this could be an I-35 disaster candidate.

There’s a LOT of rubber tire roadkill along the edges of the highway.  I’m grateful I wasn’t in the vicinity when those tires disintegrated.

There’s a gas station chain down this way called Sheetz?  What genius invented that name.  Were they aiming for corporate logos along the lines of “Stop in if you’re three Sheetz to the wind” or “Holy Sheets, we're here if you have an intestinal malfunction”.  Gotta say, it's an odd name.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are really, really blue--even in this pic taken with my iPhone.  I need to ask SIL and BIL who live down here, why.  Anyone know what causes this? 

Taken from a scenic view stop just outside Charlottesville
It’s interesting that the Appalachian Mountains, stretching over 2,00 miles along the East Coast, have such unique regional personalities.  Blue Ridge, Smokies, Green Mountains, White Mountains.

From my room in the hotel, I have a view of the mountains.  It’s already a great day.